You can choose from many options to create artwork with Zen Kanji on a wall scroll or portrait.
Start by clicking on a "Customize & Buy" button below...
First let's correct something: The Japanese romanization for this character, "Zen" has penetrated the English language. In English, it's almost always incorrectly used for phrases like "That's so zen." Nobody says "That's so meditation" - right? As the title of a sect, this would be like saying, "That's soooo Baptist!"
禪 by itself just means "meditation." In that context, it should not be confined to use by any one religion or sect.
Regardless of the dictionary definition, more often than not, this character is associated with Buddhism. And here is one of the main reasons:
Zen is used as the title of a branch of Mahayana Buddhism which strongly emphasizes the practice of meditation.
However, it should be noted that Buddhism came from India, and "Chan Buddhism" evolved and developed in medieval China. The Chinese character "Chan" was eventually pronounced as "Zen" in Japanese. Chan Buddhists in China have a lot in common with Zen Buddhists in Japan.
More about the history of Zen Buddhism here.
Please also note that the Japanese Kanji character for Zen has evolved a little in Japan, and the two boxes (kou) that you see at the top of the right side of the character have been replaced by three dots with tails. The original character would still be generally understood and recognized in Japanese (it's considered an ancient version in Japan) but if you want the specifically modern Japanese version, please click on the zen Kanji to the right. Technically, there is no difference in Tensho and Reisho versions of Zen since they are ancient character styles that existed long before Japan had a written language.
There is also an alternate/shorthand/simplified Chinese version which has two dots or tails above the right-side radical. This version is also popular for calligraphy in China. If you want this version, just click the character to the right.
Further notes: Zen is just one of seven sects of Buddhism practiced in Japan. The others are 律 Ritsu (or Risshū), 法相 Hossō, 論 Sanron 華嚴 Kegon, 天台 Tendai, and 眞言 Shingon.
is the famous Enso symbol, which you will see widely-used by Japanese Zen Buddhists. In a twist, I am starting to see Enso used more and more by Chinese Buddhists.
Here is the typical appearance of Enso artwork by Japanese calligrapher Kougetsu.
Enso is not a Japanese Kanji character. It falls more into the category of a symbol. There is some debate, but many consider Enso to be a religious symbol.
Some call this "The Circle of Enlightenment." Others call it the "Infinity Circle." If you actually took the meanings of the two Kanji (円相) that make up the word "En-so," you could read it as "Mutual Circle" or "Circle of Togetherness." I think the Enso symbol can simply mean different things to different people. Therefore, you should let it have the meaning that you perceive.
The appearance of your Enso will be determined by the artist's personal style, feeling, mood, etc.
This means, "One is all, all is one," in Japanese.
This is a somewhat well-known modern proverb in Japanese. However, many will associate it with an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist, a popular Japanese anime series.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
改善 means betterment, improvement, to make better, or to improve - specifically incremental and continuous improvement.
改善 became very important in post-war Japan when Edwards Deming came to Japan to teach concepts of incremental and continuous improvement (for which the big 3 auto-makers did not want to hear about at the time - even kicking Deming out of their offices). The Japanese workforce absorbed this concept at a time with their culture was in flux and primed for change.
This kaizen term is closely associated with the western title "Total Quality Management." Perhaps dear to my heart since I spent years studying this at university before I moved to China where TQM did not seem to exist. Slowly, this concept has entered China as well (I've actually given lectures on the subject in Beijing).
If you are trying to improve processes at your business or need to remind yourself of your continuous TQM goals, this would be a great wall scroll to hang behind your desk, or in your workplace.
See Also: Kansei
禪宗 is one way to title "Zen Buddhism." Because the original pronunciation of Zen in Chinese is Chan, you'll also see this expressed as Chan Buddhism.
From the Buddhist Dictionary:
The Chan, meditative or intuitional, sect usually said to have been established in China by Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth patriarch, who brought the tradition of the Buddha-mind from India. This sect, believing in direct enlightenment, disregarded ritual and sūtras and depended upon the inner light and personal influence for the propagation of its tenets, founding itself on the esoteric tradition supposed to have been imparted to Kāśyapa by the Buddha, who indicated his meaning by plucking a flower without further explanation. Kāśyapa smiled in apprehension and is supposed to have passed on this mystic method to the patriarchs. The successor of Bodhidharma was 慧可 Huike, and he was succeeded by 僧璨 Sengcan; 道信 Daoxin; 弘忍 Hongren; 慧能 Huineng, and 神秀 Shenxiu, the sect dividing under the two latter into the southern and northern schools: the southern school became prominent, producing 南嶽 Nanyue and 靑原 Qingyuan, the former succeeded by 馬祖 Mazu, the latter by 石頭 Shitou. From Mazu's school arose the five later schools.
This title can be defined as Zen contemplation in Japanese, or sit quietly in (Buddhist) meditation in Chinese. It also carries a similar meaning in Korean Hanja. Therefore, this is a rather universal term for meditation in the context of Buddhism throughout the Orient.
Can also be translated as "Meditatively equipoised" or "enter into meditation by stilling the karmic activities of deed, speech, and thought."
The original Sanskrit word is samapanna. In Tibetan: snyoms par zhugs pa.
This literally means "meditation garden." The first character happens to be known as Zen in the west (pronunciation coming from Japanese) but this title is not often used in Japan (won't be recognized as a Japanese title). In fact, the title "Zen Garden" is basically made up by westerners.
This title speaks of reaching an understanding (of Zen or the world). It also means "to practice meditation." The two concepts lead you to the idea that meditation leads to understanding. 參禪 is pretty deep, so you can do your own research, or decide what this means for you.
This can also be defined in a more complex way as "thoroughly penetrating with meditative insight."
This title is used in certain contexts but is not widely-known by the general population of China or Japan.
From Japanese, you will see this title romanized as "zendo," which is the brand name of a board game, and also a title used by some martial arts studios and karate dojos. Oddly, many translate this as "zen fist" although there is no "fist" in the title. If you literally translated this title, it would be "meditation way" or "meditation method."
In Chinese, this would be "chan dao" with the same literal meaning as the Japanese title. It's used in China by just a handful of martial arts styles/studios.
You should only order this title if you really understand the meaning, and it has some personal connection to you (such as practicing a martial art style that uses this title, or if you love the board game Zendo). Many who see your wall scroll will not be familiar with this title, and you'll have some explaining to do.
The first character can also be written in a more complex traditional way as shown to the right. Let us know in the special instructions for your calligraphy project if you want this style.
If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, the first character will automatically be written with an extra dot on top. This is the variant form of the original Chinese character which is commonly used in modern Japan Kanji. See sample to the right.
This Japanese phrase is often translated as "train both body and spirit."
Here's the breakdown of the words in this phrase:
拳 means fist.
禅 is zen, which means meditation.
一如 is a word that means "to be just like," "oneness," "true nature," or "true character."
So to get to the translation of "train both body and spirit," you must understand that "fist" is representing "body" and the idea of mediation is representing "mind."
I have to say, this is not how I would translate this. To me, it's really about training with your mind and remembering that mediation is a huge part of training, not just your fist. As the Shaolin Buddhist monks show us, meditation is just as important as physical training in martial arts.
This is the Chinese and Japanese title for Bodhidharma. This refers to a man commonly known as Damo, reputed as the founder of the Chan (Zen) Buddhism. His original name is believed to be Bodhitara (菩提多羅).
Note: In Japanese, they tend to write the last character as versus . If you choose the Japanese master calligrapher, expect it to be written in the Japanese version.
Generally the same meaning as Satori but referring to the initial state or initial experience of enlightenment. 見性 is a Zen Buddhist term that is not widely known outside of the religion. Used more in Japan than China.
This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people. Some Japanese people will dispute whether this title is valid in the Japanese language. Only order this if you are sure this title is right for you.
心印 is a Buddhist concept that simply stated is "appreciation of truth by meditation."
It's a deep subject, but my understanding is that you can find truth through meditation, and once you've found the truth, you can learn to appreciate it more through further meditation. This title is not commonly used outside of the Buddhist community (your Asian friends may or may not understand it). The literal translation would be something like "the mind seal," I've seen this term translated this way from Japanese Buddhist poetry. But apparently, the seal that is stamped deep in your mind is the truth. You just have to meditate to find it.
Soothill defines it this way: Mental impression, intuitive certainty; the mind is the Buddha-mind in all, which can seal or assure the truth; the term indicates the intuitive method of the Chan (Zen) school, which was independent of the spoken or written word.
In Buddhist context, this is a Zen question for meditation.
From the Buddhist dictionary this is:
Problems set by Zen masters, upon which thought is concentrated as a means to attain inner unity and illumination.
The secular meaning of this word can mean a judge's desk, complex legal case, contentious issue, a dossier, case record, public laws, regulations, or case-law.
Usually, when people are looking for "Dogen," they are referring to the Japanese Zen monk by this name.
He lived from 1200-1253. This Dogen name or title literally means "The Way Origin" or "Beginning of the Path." It is understood to mean "beginning of right doctrine or faith" in the context of his name and work to establish the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan.
To accomplish that task, this humble monk traveled from Japan and across China to find the more original or pure forms of Buddhism.
Gaman is a Zen Buddhist term from Japan that means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity."
This title can also be translated as patience, perseverance, tolerance, or self-denial.
我慢 is also a Chinese Buddhist term with a different pronunciation. It comes from Sanskrit abhimāna or ātma-mada. Chinese Buddhism defines this very differently as, "Egoism exalting self and depreciating others," "self-intoxication," or "pride." Alone, the first character means "Me, I, or Self," and the second character in a Buddhist context comes from Sanskrit māna and means pride, arrogance, self-conceit, looking down on others, supercilious, etc.
I'm currently working with Japanese and Chinese translators to try and reconcile the true meaning or any commonality of this word between languages. For now, please only consider this if your audience is Japanese.
This title refers to the inner bliss and peace that you can achieve from meditation.
This term transcends a few religions, including Taoism and Buddhism. It can also be translated as "joy of the mystic trance" or simply "meditative bliss."
Amazing that such a complex idea can be expressed in just two Chinese characters. Note that the first character is Chan/Zen (Chinese/Japanese) which means "meditation" in both languages.
This encompasses the idea of meditation. It's also a term used to describe a deep form of day-dreaming, exploring one's imagination, the act of contemplating, or the idea of contemplation. 冥想 is often associated with Buddhism, however, the word "Zen" in Japanese (or "Chan" in Chinese) is probably more commonly used (or better known in the west).
In Japanese, this word means innocent, or one with no knowledge of good and evil. It literally means "without mind."
無心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: "No mind, a mind without ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge." The original term was "mushin no shin," meaning, "mind of no mind." It is a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety. Mushin is often described by the phrase, "mizu no kokoro," which means, "mind like water." The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it's surroundings when calm but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.
This has a good meaning in conjunction with Chan / Zen Buddhism in Japan. However, out of that context, it means mindlessness or absent-minded. To non-Buddhists in China, this is associated with doing something without thinking.
In Korean, this usually means indifference.
Use caution and know your audience before ordering this selection.
More info: Wikipedia: Mushin
This can be defined as relief, peace of mind, feeling at ease, to be relieved, set one's mind at rest, easiness.
安心 is a nice word that encompasses great meanings within just two characters. Some of the other meanings include to pacify, to settle the mind, peace of mind, and it's also the idea of feeling a sense of security, safety, and confidence in your state of well-being.
This can be used by everyone, but some consider it to be a Buddhist concept (You'll find it in your Zen dictionary).
This describes the act of sitting in the state of deep meditation. You'll notice that the second character is Chan/Zen, which is often used to title the meditative form of Buddhism. In Korean Hanja, this means "religious meditation" (basically the same as the Chinese definition). This can also be defined as abstract meditation, fixed abstraction, or contemplation.
Buddhists may define this as, sitting in dhyāna, abstract meditation, fixed abstraction, or contemplation.
Japanese note: This will make sense in Japanese but the Kanji shown to the left are partially in ancient/traditional Japanese form. Japanese Buddhists may use 坐禪, 坐禅, 座禪, or 座禅. The most standard/modern Japanese form of this word is shown to the right. Click on the Kanji to the right (instead of the button above) if you want this specifically Japanese version.
鄭 is the most common character that romanizes as Zheng, a surname in China.
This can also refer to the state of Zheng during the Warring States period of China.
In Korea, this can be the original way to write the surname Jeong in the old days (now it's 정 in modern Korea). Can also romanize from Korean as Chung or Jung.
This can romanize as the following names/surnames in Japanese: Tei; Ti; Te; Tsun; Dziyon; Chiyon; Chon; Chou; Chun; Chuu; Chien; Zen; Jiyon; Jon; Jou; Jun.
無事 is a Zen Buddhist term meaning no problem and no trouble.
無事 is the Zen state of perfect freedom from troubles and leaving secular affairs behind.
Sometimes this is used to describe the state of satori and complete tranquility of mind.
Written as 無事に with an extra Hiragana on the end, this becomes an adverb to describe something in the condition of safety, peace, quietness, and without troubles.
無事 (Buji) can also be a given name in Japan.
This has more meaning in the Japanese Zen Buddhist community than in China or Korea, where it can mean "be free" or "nothing to do or worry about."
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|zen||chán / chan2 / chan||ch`an / chan|
|Enso - Japanese Zen Circle||〇 / 円相||en sou / ensou / en so / enso|
|Ichi wa Zen, Zen wa Ichi||一は全、全は一||ichi wa zen zen wa ichi|
|改善||kai zen / kaizen||gǎi shàn / gai3 shan4 / gai shan / gaishan||kai shan / kaishan|
|zen shuu / zenshuu / zen shu / zenshu||chán zōng|
|Zen Contemplation||入定||rù dìng / ru4 ding4 / ru ding / ruding||ju ting / juting|
|zen sono / zensono||chán yuán|
|cān chán / can1 chan2 / can chan / canchan||ts`an ch`an / tsanchan / tsan chan|
The Zen Way
|禅道 / 禪道|
|zen dou / zendou / zen do / zendo||chán dào / chan2 dao4 / chan dao / chandao||ch`an tao / chantao / chan tao|
|Ken Zen Ichi Nyo||拳禪一如|
|ken zen ichi nyo|
|Bodhidharma||菩提達摩 / 菩提達磨|
菩提达摩 / 菩提达磨
|bo dai daru ma|
|pú tí dá mó|
pu2 ti2 da2 mo2
pu ti da mo
|p`u t`i ta mo
pu ti ta mo
|Kensho - Initial Enlightenment||見性|
|ken shou / kenshou / ken sho / kensho||jiàn xìng|
|Appreciation of Truth by Meditation||心印||shin nin / shinnin||xīn yìn / xin1 yin4 / xin yin / xinyin||hsin yin / hsinyin|
|Koan||公案||kouan / koan||gōng àn / gong1 an4 / gong an / gongan||kung an / kungan|
|Dōgen||道元||dou gen / dougen / do gen / dogen||dào yuán / dao4 yuan2 / dao yuan / daoyuan||tao yüan / taoyüan|
|Gaman||我慢||ga man / gaman||wǒ màn / wo3 man4 / wo man / woman|
|Inner Bliss and Peace from Meditation||禪悅|
|chán yuè / chan2 yue4 / chan yue / chanyue||ch`an yüeh / chanyüeh / chan yüeh|
|Meditation||冥想||mei sou / meisou / mei so / meiso||míng xiǎng|
|mu shin / mushin||wú xīn / wu2 xin1 / wu xin / wuxin||wu hsin / wuhsin|
Peace of Mind
|安心||an shin / anshin||ān xīn / an1 xin1 / an xin / anxin||an hsin / anhsin|
|Sit in Meditation||坐禪|
|za zen / zazen||zuò chán / zuo4 chan2 / zuo chan / zuochan||tso ch`an / tsochan / tso chan|
|Truth Flashed Through The Mind||參悟|
|cān wù / can1 wu4 / can wu / canwu||ts`an wu / tsanwu / tsan wu|
|tei||zhèng / zheng4 / zheng||cheng|
Freedom from Problems
|buji||wú shì / wu2 shi4 / wu shi / wushi||wu shih / wushih|
|Content and Motionless||安住不動|
|an juu fu dou|
an ju fu do
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.
When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.
Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!
When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.
The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.
Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.